In a few days’ time, independent India will be 68 years old. Not young, not old. Inspirational. On the brink of being the youngest country in the world, we have the wisdom for progress and a democratic vision and process to get there. We are proud of our history of course, but the last decade has been transformational for India. Here are the things Desh Apnayen celebrates about Modern India this Independence day.
- In March 2014, The World Health Organisation declared India and the rest of South East Asia as Polio free zones. Overcoming challenges of population, population density, malnutrition, poverty, and enteric diseases, India championed the ‘bi-valent’ vaccine that would prove to be most effective in this eradication drive. The credit for this goes to the Government’s systematic immunisation drives, effective partnerships with grass roots level organisations and strong advertising campaigns. Does ‘Do boond Zindagi Ke’ ring a bell?
Science and Technology:
- The Mangalyaan Mission grabbed the world’s imagination when in September 2014 India became the fouth country in the world to enter the Mars orbit in the first attempt. As on 16th April 2015, this first Indian interplanetary mission has completed 800 circles around the Red Planet.
- While ISRO is breaking barriers in Space, women are breaking glass ceilings in our scientific community. In 2009, Dr. Tessy Thomas became the first woman to lead a missile project in India. She and her team successfully developed and tested the 5000 km Agni V missile in 2012.
It was just incredible when our team of champions won 101 medals in the 2010 Commonwealth Games and stood second. Adding glory to this achievement is the team that represented us in the 2015 Special Olympics, winning an overwhelming 173 medals at Los Angeles. Is your heart swelling with pride yet?
Thanks to efforts of local conservationists and a strong, enforceable ban on hunting by the Government, India’s lion population has increased by 27%*. The forests of Gir in western Gujarat is the only home Asiatic lions have. Their population had shrunk to merely a dozen or so in the beginning of the 20th century. Now, we have over 523. Not only lions, but the land area allotted to tigers in central India has also expanded to 37,761 square kms in the last 10 years from a mere 16,339 square kms in 1973**. A roaring success, don’t you think?
*Source – http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-32686374
** Source – http://www.indianholiday.com/wildlife-india/wildlife-conservation-in-india.html
Geologically and geographically, India is a vulnerable land. About 60% of the landmass is prone to earthquakes of various intensities; over 40 million hectares is prone to floods; about 8% of the total area is prone to cyclones and 68% of the area is susceptible to drought.*** The last few years saw India battle tremendous natural disasters in Uttrakhand and Jammu. Battling all hopes, a multidisciplinary rescue operation spearheaded by the Indian armed forces is the stuff of unimaginable courage and compassion. More than 8500 army officials reached Uttrakhand within days of the floods in June 2013 and saved countless lives. More than 50,000 civilians were rehabilitated and provided medical care. In the wake of Jammu floods in September 2014, the worst ones to have occurred in over a century, the Armed Forces rescued more than 200,000 civilians.
*** Source – http://www.unisdr.org/2005/mdgs-drr/national-reports/India-report.pdf
98% of rural Indians today have access to a primary school within a kilometre of their homes. Girls’ enrolment in primary schools has increased to 66.1 million in 2005 as compared to 6.8 million in 1951. The Right to Education act, though enforced in letter and not the spirit of the law, is making headway in helping the poor get access to quality primary education.
Yes, there are challenges. Reasons to celebrate too, are many. It is time we work together to create mindset shifts along with infrastructure shifts. In the next few years, let us become a meritocratic society, a safe society, an equal society. Let us become one with the spirit of India, which is the spirit of inclusiveness, growth and compassion.